Safirlab - Supporting those working for change in the Arab world



To enable young people involved in initiatives in the area of the media and civil society to develop their projects and share their experiences
To create a dialogue between young people with the same civic values and help build a mutual partnership between France and countries south of the Mediterranean




A project

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In partnership with

Project timeline

April 2012
December 2015
This project is finished


Safirlab was born in the wake of the Arab Spring, the wave of protests against authoritarian regimes that started in Tunisia in 2011 and swept across Egypt and several countries of the Maghreb and the Middle East. These movements, which were variously successful in obtaining concessions, severely repressed, or the cause of a change of government, created new social dynamics driven in particular by the youth of these countries.

The aim of Safirlab is to support Arab countries in their political transformation by encouraging young people (aged between 20 and 30) who are working for change and involved in projects related to issues of civil society and the media.

Successful applicants are invited to attend an incubation event in Paris with the dual aim of developing their project and facilitating the sharing of experiences. For two weeks, they will receive support both in a group framework and individually, meeting with professionals in their sector. Safirlab is also an opportunity for the creation of a network and for exchanges between young people from the Arab world, all of whom have experienced profound political upheaval and are driven by the same desire for change.

“The meetings with professionals organised by SafirLab in France stand out from other similar initiatives in that they were not merely meetings about our projects, educational sessions or conferences, they were more like genuine exchanges”
Ahmed Naguib, SafirLab 2014 participant

Project beneficiaries

Egyptians, Jordanians, Libyans, Moroccans, Tunisians and Yemenis aged between 20 and 30 working on projects focusing on the issues of citizenship, local governance and the media.

Project manager

1.Identification and selection of project candidates

The selection of candidates is a three-stage process:

  • Call for applications is launched in French, Arabic and English in the six countries concerned by the project and a screening committee is assembled to shortlist candidates.
  • Shortlisted candidates are interviewed by selection committees in their own country.
  • Final selection committee gathers at CFI to select the 20 finalists.

CFI and the Institut français team up to launch “SafirLab”, the laboratory for change

July 12, 2012

On 11 July 2012, Etienne Fiatte, Managing Director of CFI signed a partnership agreement with Xavier Darcos, President of the Institut Français, the French operator in favour of cultural initiatives abroad, to jointly organise and fund the SafirLab project, aiming to strengthen the skills of key young players in the new political and social drive in the Arab world.

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SafirLab Seminar: France supports the key agents of tomorrow´s Arab* companies

September 24, 2012

Project launched in July 2012, SafirLab aims to reinforce the skills of key young agents within the new political and social dynamics of the Arab world.

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2.Week incubation session

The successful candidates attend a training programme with five main components:

  • Plenary sessions for group training
  • Meetings held under a theme, for discussion of major social issues
  • Individual meetings with professionals for advice tailored to each project
  • Practical workshops in small groups for an introduction to communication techniques
  • Interactive workshops during cultural trips in Paris

SafirLab – 33 enterprising young people from the Arab world gather together in Paris

November 18, 2013

The 2013 edition of SafirLab, which will run from 18 to 29 November in Paris, will welcome 33 young people who have been carefully selected based on the quality of their professional projects.

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3.Follow-up support for initiatives

On their return, dialogue with participants continues locally with the support of the Instituts Français and the cooperation services of the French Embassy in each country, as well as through social networks and regular invitations to CFI events. The goal is to create new opportunities for meetings between participants and foster the creation of a network of young people in Arab countries.

SafirLab 2014: 21 young people from Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen champion their projects in Paris

October 24, 2014

At a time when a number of countries in the Arab world are experiencing major upheaval which is making normal everyday life difficult, SafirLab, which is being held for the third time in Paris from 9 to 23 November 2014, will bring together 21 young people who are developing initiatives relating to civil society and media in their own countries with the aim of bringing hope to these affected communities.

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3 SafirLab prize-winners invited to the Beirut “Initiators of Change” forum

June 5, 2015

Under the umbrella of the "Beirut Spring", and in homage to journalist Samir Kassir, who disappeared ten years ago, and to his birthplace, the foundation that bears his name organised the Change Makers Forum, which took place on 24 May 2015 at the St. Joseph University Innovation and Sport Campus in Beirut (Lebanon).

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SafirLab: a new meeting in Tunisia

February 24, 2016

On 3–5 February 2016, 15 former participants from the three previous rounds of the media section of the SafirLab project met in Tunis for a new session.

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